Algy flew over to the other side of the lighthouse rocks, and was surprised to find that there were many clumps of primroses growing among the rough grass there, despite the very exposed location. There was also a fine view of the Small Isles of the Inner Hebrides, so he tucked himself down comfortably among the flowers, keeping as low to the ground as possible to avoid the worst effects of the bitter wind, and gazed out far across the sea…

The weather continued to get brighter and colder, and suddenly the world was full of colour again, and the light was so bright that Algy’s eyes could hardly adjust to it after months of gloomy grey half-light. He set off into the sunshine, and flew over to a high point on the north coast, where he found a fine spot to sunbathe which was sheltered from the bitter north-east wind. The sea had turned deep blue, and he could see for miles in every direction. It was a truly glorious late-winter afternoon!

This is a wee bit closer to Algy’s experience on the headland rocks yesterday, although it doesn’t quite convey what it’s actually like to be there. In reality, the noise of the sea was much louder, crashing and booming on the rocks all around, and the noise of the wind was relatively insignificant (except to a built-in camera mic!).

Posted especially for all Algy’s friends who love the sea but don’t get to visit it very often 🙂

[Hand-held video recording with camera shake and plenty of wind noise to add authenticity 🙂 Algy’s assistants couldn’t manage to get the tripod to this remote location, which requires a steep descent (and subsequent ascent) at a remote spot on the headland – unless of course you are a fluffy bird and can fly there…]

p.s. Anyone know how to provide an adequate wind shield for a built-in mic on a still image digital camera?

After a very wet start, Sunday turned into a beautiful early autumn
day, at least for a while. So Algy flew out to the end of the headland,
and spent a very happy afternoon watching the breakers surge in over the
rocks on an unusually high tide.

Algy hopes that you have all been enjoying a happy Sunday afternoon too xoxo

It was a beautiful day at the lighthouse, and the ocean was a deep, deep blue. Algy reclined on the rocks, and gazed far out to sea. The air was clear and he could just make out the black fins of two or three basking sharks, perhaps a couple of miles away, and the white flashes of gannets diving into the water around them.

It might be true that summer in the West Highlands was only going to last for two or three days this year, but Algy was determined to make the most of it while it was here. So he leaned back on the comfortably warm rock and just rested for a while, listening to the lapping of the waves down below, and watching the sea birds flying by.

It was a north wind day, which meant that the view to the islands was fine, and the sea was a deep, deep blue, but the air was raw and cold. Algy flew up onto the headland in the late afternoon, when the shadows were growing long, and perched in a special place he knew, where an old tree stood framed in a gap looking out towards the isles. He was thinking of friends far away, whose lives were also full of shadows at this time, and he remembered a poem by Walter de la Mare:

          Sweep thy faint strings, Musician,
            With thy long, lean hand;
          Downward the starry tapers burn,
            Sinks soft the waning sand;
          The old hound whimpers couched in sleep,
            The embers smoulder low;
          Across the wall the shadows
                 Come, and go.

          Sweep softly thy strings, Musician,
             The minutes mount to hours;
          Frost on the windless casement weaves
             A labyrinth of flowers;
          Ghosts linger in the darkening air,
             Hearken at the opening door;
          Music hath called them, dreaming,
                 Home once more.

[ Algy is quoting the poem The Song of Shadows by the early 20th century English poet Walter de la Mare. ]

Looking towards the north, there was an unusually clear view of the islands. As Algy leaned back in the heather, he could see the famous ridges of The Cuillin of the Isle of Skye standing out against the sky in the far distance. To the left, the Isles of Eigg and Rum seemed larger and closer than usual, with the Sea of the Hebrides surrounding them with the deep blue of a fine autumn day. Algy couldn’t help humming the well-known “traditional” Scottish song he had learned as a wee chick, many years before he came to know the places it described:

          A far croonin’ is pullin’ me away
          As take I wi’ my cromach to the road.
          The far Cuillins are puttin’ love on me,
          As step I wi’ the sunlight for my load.

          Chorus:
          Sure, by Tummel and Loch Rannoch
          And Lochaber I will go,
          By heather tracks wi’ heaven in their wiles;
          If it’s thinkin’ in your inner heart
          Braggart’s in my step,
          You’ve never smelt the tangle o’ the Isles.
          Oh, the far Cuillins are puttin’ love on me,
          As step I wi’ my cromach to the Isles.

          It’s by ‘Sheil water the track is to the west,
          By Ailort and by Morar to the sea,
          The cool cresses I am thinkin’ o’ for pluck,
          And bracken for a wink on Mother’s knee.

          It’s the blue Islands are pullin’ me away,
          Their laughter puts the leap upon the lame,
          The blue Islands from the Skerries to the Lews,
          Wi’ heather honey taste upon each name.

If you don’t know the song The Road to the Isles, listen to this fine recording by Canon Sydney MacEwan of Glasgow (ignore the introduction), or this one from the earliest archives by the famous Sir Harry Lauder, recorded in 1926.

This same lighthearted song was also played by the famous WWII piper Bill Millin on Sword Beach on D-Day, whose task it was to maintain the morale of troops under heavy fire during the Normandy landings: Piper, give us a tune…

Algy found a sunny perch on a rocky outcrop which was covered in a wide variety of lichens and mosses, and leaned back against the dry heather. On the horizon, the Small Isles of the Inner Hebrides were floating on a calm sea of silvery blue. Such a beautiful afternoon was a very rare phenomenon in November, and Algy was determined to make the most of it while it lasted 🙂

This post is dedicated to one of Algy’s Tumblr friends in southern France, tartefine … Joyeux Anniversaire xoxo

Today the Tumblr gods worked some of their amazing magic, and Algy suddenly found that he had a large number of new followers from all around the world. He was utterly astonished and delighted, and so naturally he immediately had to do a special Happy Dance 🙂

Algy wishes all you lovely new followers a very warm and fluffy welcome, and he hopes that you will enjoy his adventures in the West Highlands of Scotland.

And of course Algy also wants to share the Happy Dance with all his kind followers and sweet Tumblr friends who have been following his adventures so far.

So – dear followers, old and new – please stop whatever else you may be doing, and join Algy in this special Happy Dance today :-))

Algy loves you all xoxo

The coastline of the headland provided a diverse range of fascinating wee environments which Algy loved. In some places the rocks plunged straight down deep ravines into the sea, in others there were tiny tidal beaches of pale sand, and in some areas there were masses of large rocks jutting out into the ocean. In one special spot on the north coast there was a unique network of large pools above the normal tideline, surrounded by miniature fortifications of rock. This was a place unlike any other, and it was often warm and sheltered too. Algy loved to perch on a rock here, and watch the small fish that darted in and out of the weed in the pools. He assumed that these rock basins must be filled mainly with rainwater, but as the ocean was only yards away and exceedingly vigorous at times, the water would surely be salty too. Algy wondered how the fish could manage in such a strange environment, and whether they sometimes ventured out into the great ocean when the tide was especially high…